It’s safe to say that isekai stories are a dime a dozen, but what about stories where the protagonist can freely go between Japan and a fantasy world? Well, those are a little more unusual, making Yen Press’ new release I Got a Cheat Skill in Another World and Became Unrivaled in The Real World, Too Volume 1 all the more intriguing. But does it deliver an interesting story? Let’s find out!
The story follows high-school student Yuuya Tenjou, who has spent the majority of his life being neglected by his parents and brutally bullied by people at school because of being overweight and “ugly”. The only happy time in Yuuya’s life was when his grandfather was still alive, as he would treat Yuuya like he was his own son. In the present Yuuya is living by himself in his grandfather’s home, which his grandfather left to his grandson when he sadly passed away.
When we first meet our protagonist, it’s fair to say that he is at rock bottom. Having been beaten up by the bullies at school, he’s been fired from his part-time job because of all his injuries. This is a cycle that keeps repeating and Yuuya is at his wit’s end, unable to see a future in which he can thrive and enjoy life. Punching a wall of his grandfather’s house in frustration, Yuuya finds a secret passage and a doorway that leads him to a house in what appears to be some kind of fantasy world.
A note in the house informs Yuuya that the owner was leaving it to whoever should first stumble upon it, so now it and everything inside it belongs to him. Yuuya can’t believe his eyes at the impressive collection of weapons inside the house and the extensive garden outside housing medical herbs and tasty fruit and veg. Being in this world also seems to have granted him some kind of abilities and game-like stats, which makes it feel all the more unreal to Yuuya but maybe this is the breakthrough he’s needed to turn his life around.
As it turns out, this is indeed the break Yuuya needed and after defeating a monster in this world, he suddenly finds himself levelling up and being granted plenty of skill points to spend. Afterwards, he goes through a transformation overnight, losing all his excess weight and turning into a handsome young man. His luck only continues when he’s invited to a new high school where he’s safe from the bullies who haunted him and has the opportunity to make some new friends.
As far as Volume 1, goes there isn’t a lot more to it than that. Yuuya splits his time between Earth and the fantasy world (although he never gets to do much except train and fight a couple of monsters there) and the story largely revolves around him taking his first steps into a new, happier life. I like the core concept of Yuuya being able to travel between worlds, but given the lack of any real substance, I struggle to see how this has continued into being a currently 10-volume series in Japan.
I think it would have made more sense as a standalone book, ending with Yuuya in a much better place and having faced up to those who hurt him so much – which it more or less does. It probably also doesn’t help that there isn’t a lot to Yuuya’s personality outside of all the suffering he’s been through; he seems like a nice guy with a lot of insecurities but that’s all we really get to see.
While I enjoyed the book, it will no doubt be a tough sell for most readers when there are better offerings out there. Yuuya being granted these abilities and turning his life around more or less overnight is unbelievable and while author Miku does try to justify why Yuuya deserves this second chance, it’s still hard to accept. The one point that works in the novel’s favour is the fact that Yuuya’s school transfer doesn’t come about because of his actions after transformation, but from having saved the headmaster’s daughter from some thugs right at the beginning of the book. I like the fact that this one good deed helped turn his life around and wasn’t related to the abilities he later gained. Although this positive is more or less overshadowed by the fact every girl Yuuya interacts with after his transformation is lusting after him, which is a big negative in my book…
As previously mentioned I Got a Cheat Skill in Another World and Became Unrivaled in The Real World, Too Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and has been translated by Noboru Akimoto. The translation reads well with no issues to note. Volume 2 is set for an English release in December and Yen Press has also been releasing the manga adaptation, if that’s of more interest to you than a light novel.
Overall I Got a Cheat Skill in Another World and Became Unrivaled in The Real World, Too Volume 1 is an inoffensive and rather forgettable read. I like the concept more than the execution, which makes it incredibly difficult to recommend to others, unfortunately.